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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Summertime an' the Livin' is Easy

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Living in Florida, I know first hand how oppressive the Summer heat can be. When it's 98 in the shade, the last thing anyone wants to do is slave over a hot stove - myself included! Since we still have to eat, I'm always looking for meal ideas that require a minimal amount of cooking, or better yet, no cooking at all. Simplicity is the magic word here. Those are the times that I toss together a big salad, throw some protein on top and call it a day.

I did just that last night. I made what I like to call a "Kitchen Sink" Salad. I call it that because when I make it, I clean out the vegetable bin in my fridge and raid my pantry and mix it all together. A lot of people underestimate salads. They view them as boring. Sure, a wedge of iceberg lettuce drowning in Hidden Valley Ranch with a few slices of anemic tomatoes is not the most exciting thing in the world, but who says that's all a salad can be? When I make a "Kitchen Sink" Salad, I literally use everything but the kitchen sink! There is no recipe for it and the ingredients are different every time. Just use your imagination and create with reckless abandon!
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For this salad, I started with an Italian salad mix from the market that had romaine, radicchio and some leaf lettuce in it. I added some leftover steamed green beans and boiled potatoes, hard boiled eggs, diced red onion, black olives, diced cucumber and some beautiful tomatoes from the farmers's market. I also had an old can of artichoke bottoms lying around, so I diced them up and put them in too. I opened a few cans of red sockeye salmon and mixed it with some extra-virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice and dumped it right on top. Then, I dressed it all with a light vinaigrette made with sherry vinegar, dijon mustard, olive oil, roasted almond oil, salt and pepper.
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I love adding fruit, nuts and seeds to my salads too. Many times, I will toss in blueberries, strawberries or orange slices, as well as walnuts, almonds or toasted sunflower seeds. The point is that anything goes. As long as you like it, that's all that matters.

Another thing that goes well with a great salad is soup. Don't you roll your eyes at me! Obviously, spending hours in the kitchen making a bouillabaisse from scratch kind of defeats the purpose, but I'm not proposing that. I'm not talking about opening a can either. What I am talking about are some quick and easy summer soups that require little or no cooking and can even be served chilled. All of these soups can be made in advance too.
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One of the most popular soups that fits in this category is gazpacho. Gazpacho is a Spanish-style soup that sort of resembles a chunky, liquid salad. It has lots of fresh, raw vegetables suspended in a broth of puréed tomatoes or tomato juice. In the summertime when all of the vegetables are at their peak, this simple chilled soup is full of zesty and refreshing flavors. There are a myriad of excellent variations for gazpacho, but one of the recipes that I like best is Ina Garten's from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. It's fresh, chunky, tomatoey and absolutely delicious! I like to jazz it up a little with some diced jalapeno, fresh lime juice and a dash of Tabasco.
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Another one of my favorite summer soups is, again, from Ina Garten. I've posted about her Zucchini Vichyssoise before, but it definitely deserves another mention. Even though this soup does require some cooking, the recipe is pretty easy and takes less than an hour to prepare. It is also one that can be served hot or cold, so it makes a great leftover dish too. It is a wonderfully velvety, elegant and satisfying summer soup.
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The final summer soup that I want to tell you about is one that I have served both as a brunch dish and a dessert. It is a smooth, creamy and sumptuous Strawberry Soup. This is probably the quickest and easiest to make of the three and it is amazing! Fresh, ripe strawberries are blended with yogurt, sour cream, lime juice and honey. The result is a cross between a rich mousse and a smoothie. Sublime!
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The next time you just can't bear the thought of turning on your oven or simmering for hours, don't despair. You need not go hungry! Whip up your own "Kitchen Sink" Salad and one of these quick and delicious summer soups and you're good to go. And, while you're doing it, you can listen to a little mood music courtesy of yours truly. Here is a recording of a jazz arrangement I wrote of Summertime by George Gershwin. Hope you like it!





Gazpacho
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa by Ina Garten

1 hothouse cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
4 large, ripe tomatoes
1 red onion
1 jalapeno, split in half and seeded
3 garlic cloves, minced
24 ounces tomato juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Tabasco sauce to taste

Roughly chop the cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not overprocess.

After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add Tabasco to taste. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.

Serves 6


Zucchini Vichyssoise
Adapted from Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon good olive oil
5 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts
4 cups chopped unpeeled white boiling potatoes
3 cups chopped zucchini
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock or canned broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
Fresh chives or julienned zucchini, for garnish

Rinse leeks well with cold water. They can be very sandy. Pat with paper towels to dry.

Heat the butter and oil in a large stockpot, add the leeks, and saute over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.

Add the potatoes, zucchini, chicken stock, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil; then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Cool for a few minutes and then process through a food mill fitted with the medium disc. Add the cream and season to taste.

Serve either cold or hot, garnished with chopped chives and/or zucchini.

Serves 6


Sumptuous Strawberry Soup
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1 pound fresh strawberries
1/4 granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or regular yogurt, strained
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons sour cream or creme fraiche
2-3 tablespoons honey, to taste

Wash and cut the strawberries and place in a bowl. Sprinkle sugar and lime juice over berries. Toss and let macerate for about 30 minutes.

Put the strawberries in the bowl of a food processor and process until the strawberries are pureed. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth.

Cover and refrigerate a few hours until chilled.
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Serves 4
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Enjoy!

52 comments:

Patsyk said...

That's my kind of salad! You'll find that on our dinner table throughout the summer!

I can't wait to make gazpacho, but Jersey tomatoes won't be in for at least another month... can't wait!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I think I have kitchen sink salads for lunch most days - I just look at what needs to be used up.

The strawberry soup and zucchini vichyssoise recipes look really enticing!

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) said...

What a beautiful piece of work. This must be one of your best posts ever - if not your best. It just summed up "Summer". It is freezing here in Cape Town at the moment and the rain is coming down in buckets, but I would give an eyeball for a "Clean out the kitchen sink salad!"

Sophie said...

Great summery recipes. I love how soups really enhance the already-great flavor of veggies :). This is such a healthy post, you have nearly every food group in here :D.

Nicole said...

Great photos and ideas! It is HOT HOT HOT here lately too. These look so very tempting.

noble pig said...

Looks lovely.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Susan, You have some real good eating here! Everything is great for our hot summer to come! Thanks!

joanne at frutto della passione said...

Susan, everything looks divine and so tempting. it is finally starting to get hot here too, so I'm going to be doing the no cook meal thing soon, thanks for the help!

Ginny said...

I love gazpacho! Having grown up in NC, I feel your pain...we had salad alot in the summer growing up...my mother would tell us to cook if we wanted something else...it was just too hot!

Jeena said...

Now that is what I call a salad! This whole post is making me hungry.

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Patsy- We're getting some nice Ruskin tomatoes right now around here. You definitely need good sweet ones for this soup.

Jen- Glad you like the soups! We do these kinds of salads for lunch a lot too.

Nina- Thank you so much! Oh, wow! I keep forgetting about you guys down under! Stay warm!

Sophie- Thanks! I'm glad you like them. I hadn't thought about it, but I guess every food group is in there. :)

Nicole- Thanks! I don't remember it being this hot in years! Matbe, I'm just getting old. ;)

Noble Pig- Thanks!

Marie- You're very welcome! I'm glad you liked it. ;)

Joanne- Thank you! I'm glad your weather is finally starting to warm up. I hear you've been getting a ton of rain over there! :)

Ginny- Hi! Your mother sounds a little like me. I'm much less accomodating around here when the weather is steamy!

Jeena- Lol! Grab a fork (or a spoon)!

Manggy said...

Hey Susan! Nice arrangement (love your voice)! Who are the musicians in the recording? (Reminds me of Europe-- Fantasia Barrino had just sung it and it was stuck in my head, coincidentally some random street performer played it on sax in London... Sigh)

I can't believe for once that your temperature tops ours! The high temperature here is only 91°-- it's been tempered by frequent gentle rains. Nice :) I can't really decide which soup I wanna try first, but to stay true to my sweet tooth, I'll say... Strawberry :) They all looks so good and refreshing! (the face on the vichyssoise kinda reminds me of this though :P

Bellini Valli said...

I am ready to cook with reckless abandon Susan. It is almost the first day of summer....roll on:D

Bellini Valli said...

I am ready to cook with reckless abandon Susan. It is almost the first day of summer....roll on:D

Bellini Valli said...

I am ready to cook with reckless abandon Susan. It is almost the first day of summer....roll on:D

Kevin said...

So much tasty looking food! I am going to have to try that strawberry soup.

Obsessive Foodie or Food Addict....You Decide said...

Love soup and salad.....could eat it everyday. My 4 year old pretty much only consumes soup. When in a pinch, dare I say, I jazz up those bear creek soup pouches w/extra veggies. Your pics look great.

Cynthia said...

Great summer dishes! I am inspired.

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Manggy- Thank you! I'm glad you liked it! The other singers are my partners in my vocal jazz quartet. We've been together for 15 years. The pianist is the late, great Manfredo Fest. He was a famous Brazilian pianist that we worked with on one of our CDs. Sadly, he passed away a few years ago. Believe it or not he was blind! He played everything by ear! The sax player's name is Kenny Drews and the drummer is Tommy Carabasi.

The strawberry soup is my favorite too!

Val- Lol! That is the only way to cook! :D

Kevin- Thanks! Let me know how you like it.

Obsessive- I loooove the Bear Creek Chili mix. I doctor it up a bit, but it really is "Darn Good Chili"! ;)

Cynthia- Thank you! I'm glad I inspired you! :)

Grace said...

gazpacho is wonderful, and although i've never had (or know how to pronounce) zucchini vichyssoise, it looks delicious. however, given my ridiculous affinity for sweets, the real star of this show is the strawberry soup (sumptuous, indeed!). just tilt my head back and pour it on down my gullet. :)

Cakelaw said...

I love your photo of the zucchini soup in the glass with the face - I want one of those! It's adorable.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Salads can be delicious and interesting and you have proven that, Susan!
And the soups... well, they look fabulous. I have never tried these recipes, but you can be sure I will once summer is back here!

Judy @ No Fear Entertaining said...

Hopefully these will help me survive another Florida summer!!! Every year it seems to be worse and worse for me! Thankfully we have a pool!

Deborah said...

This sounds like the perfect summer spread!!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I love gazpacho, but I am still waiting for tomato season. YOur presentation is fantatic for the zucchini soup (I'm not spelling it out!) What a cute little glass you put it in!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I love gazpacho, but I am still waiting for tomato season. YOur presentation is fantatic for the zucchini soup (I'm not spelling it out!) What a cute little glass you put it in!

Joanna said...

holy yum

Joanna said...

Ok, I am in Florida too. When am I invited to your house for a Summer meal.

sweating and misting in the heat - Jo (Brad's wife...the one who won the Top CHef book!)

love your blog

Kim said...

Thanks for a nice assortment of summer food ideas.

Prudy said...

What a great post! Thanks for all the recipes-now I'm going back for the Gershwin.

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Grace- I have to agree with you. I can't get enough of that strawberry soup.

Cakelaw- Isn't she cute? I she has 3 sisters too. I got the set at a craft fair.

Patricia- Thank you! The vichyssoise is also delicious as a hot soup. :)

Judy- Isn't it awful! It does seem to be getting worse every year.

Deborah- Thanks!

S(d)OC- Yeah, the tomatoes really make the gazpacho. Glad you like the glass. She has 3 sisters too. ;)

Joanna- Hi! Thanks for stopping by. Bring your fan and pop on over anytime! ;)

Kim- You're welcome! Glad you liked them. :)

Prudy- Thank you! Glad you like the recipes. Hope you like the Gershwin!

Gina said...

A now-closed restaurant in Eureka Springs, Arkansas used to serve Strawberry Soup. The recipe is a wee bit different but not much (calls for vanilla and I *think* powdered sugar but I can't remember off the top of my head). It's so yummilicious - like melted strawberry ice cream. Mmmm. And yes, very summery! A wonderful choice!

My Sweet & Saucy said...

Love the strawberry soup! Perfect for this time of year!

Emiline said...

I'm amazed by everything you made, but I especially love the strawberry soup! It looks so creamy and delicious.
I love the pictures.

kellypea said...

Wow -- what a great collection of recipes! I'm totally with you on salads like that. They're so fun to construct. The artichoke bottoms sound perfect with that combo. I've never had cold soup, though. I get the concept, and the flavors sound yummy, but I'm thinking the menfolk would look at me like, where's dinner?

RecipeGirl said...

I'm so sorry you have all of that 'awful' heat to deal with. So Cal has been having a heatwave this week where we're close to 100 degrees. A little stifling but with no humidity it's bearable.

That strawberry soup!!! I've printed out the recipe already, and that close-up is magazine-worthy. Very nice!!!

Zen Chef said...

Wow, there are some good eats on this post. That gazpacho look fantastic, just how i like it... chunky! Yum!

I'm the same way, when the temperatures climb to 90+ i cannot bear to turn on my stove. Stove or not stove, you can still treat yourself pretty nice. :-)

Cakespy said...

Gazpacho has got to be one of my absolute favorite foods in the world. This looks like a wonderful version--I don't like it too thin. But what's making me want to die of pleasure is this strawberry soup!! A perfect color, and it sounds like a perfect flavor too! Although that "serves 4" bit...hmmm, we'll see if we can stretch it that far...

Lina said...

gorgeous photos! I love that cute little cup with the face on it! ;)

Flanboyant Eats said...

wow so many recipes in one post. sensory overload! how great!!
i especially like the strawberries!

Aran said...

oh susan... a big YES to all of those! gazpacho, check... vichyssoise, check... strawberry smoothie, check...

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Oh, I just love that Gershwin CD! And that strawberry soup looks downright sexy!

Ivy said...

So many refreshing recipes in one post. They all sound delicious.

White On Rice Couple said...

Looking at your amazing spread is so cooling, it already takes away all the sweltering heat.
We've had our fair share of heat yesterday too, ugh! Over 100 degrees with no air conditioning!
I love gazpacho too! I can taste it already!

Simply...Gluten-free said...

I'm in Florida too and yes, it is definately the salad and cold soup time of the year. Everything looks delish!

Paula said...

Just found your blog ... love the strawberry soup recipe! Now that the strawberries are in season, this will be a fun one to try!

Helen said...

I do exactly the same thing with my salads Susan! I literally take everything in the the fridge an throw it all together. Always yum! Salads are definitely not boring.

Parker said...

Wow these all look so incredible.
The texture and flavors of the zucchini vihyssoise is incredible. I am going to Paris for the first this fall - cannot wait, especially if food is as good as I am anticipating.

Hillary said...

Nice job on the summer soups! The zucchini and strawberry flavors look truly delicious.

CookiePie said...

Gorgeous! I just posted a recipe for Blueberry Soup on my blog -- I absolutely love a chilled fruit soup in the summer. I'll have to try yours!

We Are Never Full said...

even though i can't stand In-A-Garden (her name is totally made up... come ON!!!), I think this recipe looks delicious. I love a good gazpacho. This one looks great!

Tartelette said...

As soon as I played it for B. he said "Manfredo Fest!...wow...her voice!" Guess where I was this morning? Rainbow Row and I drove by Porgy's gravesite...Gershwin is everywhere in town! Except this is one of his least favorites to play because every tourist ask for it!!
All the soups are wonderful...I want gazpacho now!